How a Caring Community Sparks Growth and Change
When you want to create a life of impact, there’s no more powerful catalyst than a caring community.
Last Tuesday, I pounded out the first post of 2021 just hours before my first Year of Impact meeting with 27 women. I only knew 2 others in the group, and I didn’t sugar coat my fears. I left out one, though.
One of the fears that I omitted was my fear of entering new groups. I’m imagining your look of surprise when you read that! I’ll bet you thought, “What?! Amy is scared of meeting people? She speaks and makes videos and does interviews. She seems like an extrovert. “
That’s both true and not true. I’m an ambivert (half introvert and half extrovert), and I wouldn’t be scared to meet you. I love meeting people one-on-one. But my hands start to sweat when I have to walk into a room of unfamiliar people. Being unknown in a crowd intimidates me. My anxiety is especially acute when it’s an established community and I’m the newbie.
Even though I was “walking into” a Zoom “room” last week, all the feelings of insecurity rushed in like usual. That night, though, ended like it almost always does. I walk into a room of strangers afraid, but I walk out energized with budding friendships. There’s something inherently wonderful about community. Community is fertilizer for growth, and as an enneagram 1, I’m all about some growth!
I started thinking about the kinds of community that exist. Although I’m sure there are many more types, these are the three categories that came to mind:
- A circle of friends. This is a community that is formed with a focus on warm relationships. It’s a place where we give and receive love, belonging, encouragement, and support. Most circle of friends gather because we have many things in common. We’re drawn together with vulnerability through both laughter and tears. I’m incredibly thankful for my circle of friends.
- A community with a common focus. This is a community that gathers around one focus that draws them together. High school clubs were this kind of community. I was in the drama club (surprise! surprise! ha!) with a bunch of kids who loved theater. You might have been on the tennis team with athletes who were passionate about whacking a bouncy, yellow ball. I include my church membership in this category since I’m there with others with a common focus on Jesus.
- A community with a common mission. My Year of Impact group is an example of this kind of community. We’re all there with a mission to find the place where our life is most impactful. We also have a mission to support Designed for Joy. We’re women on with a common purpose.
You can see that it’s not so cut and dry. Almost every community starts to develop overlap. I know that some of the women in my Year of Impact group will become members of my circle of friends. My church community is also a community with a mission.
Take a moment to evaluate your communities. What are your communities? What role do they play in your life?
Small groups or communities are so effective at producing growth because they create:
- Belonging. They’re safe and nurturing places to experiment, fail, and thrive.
- Accountability. Doing life with others means that there begin to be some healthy expectations fueling us. Within a robust community, expectations become a force that moves us forward.
- Synergy. Two heads (and more!) are truly better than one. I love community because that’s were my meager creativity comes to life.
For our Year of Impact group, we’ll meet once monthly as a large group and then one more time in smaller mastermind groups that will help each member to move forward with her goals.
2020 was a year that really deconstructed community in a thousand different ways. Let’s determine that 2021 is going to be a year to rebuild community in our lives. A year that we’ll foster community so that we can grow. It’s going to take some intentionality since we’re still socially distancing, but it’s possible.
Share: Pray about where to be intentional. What communities are you currently part of that you need to nurture? What new community do you need to start in order to grow?
One resource for building community is through starting a small group that goes through Exhale: Lose Who You’re Not. Love Who You Are. Live Your One Life Well. together.
We’ve got tons of free stuff to help you get started over at our book site. Visit today, and don’t miss out on doing the free personality quiz while you’re there. So fun!
Community kind of scares me. I’ve been working from home for the past few years, I’m an introvert and don’t keep in touch well (and have moved multiple times). So developing community sounds wonderful at this point but scary. I am taking part in an online study so hopefully that will reduce some fears and help move me forward. I’m reducing who I follow and get notifications from on social media so I can focus on those friends and groups that really mean something to me. Here’s to growth and change in 2021!! Thank you Amy for sharing and challenging us.
Bonnie, community really can be scary for lots of reasons. I’ve shied away at times because of some hurt in the past. Your moves to limit internet interaction so that you can build meaningful community is so wise!